tv Q A CSPAN August 5, 2013 6:00am-7:01am EDT
the complainer was mrs. harrison. mrs. kerry harrison. she was found in terrible condition and disliked it a lot. structurally it was bad and the walls were in bad shape. and actually after the roosevelts, the franklin roosevelts went out, the trumans went to a beat up house. 13 van loads of furniture taken by the roosevelts. their possessions. there were white squares where the wallpaper where pictures had been -- you know, 13 years. and they -- that was -- that was pretty run down. that's not why truman remodelled the house, though. no president has time to take off and do the house over. they had it as a requirement for him. and the security was the basis of this. with truman. not the fact that it was shabby. but the secret service and all of a sudden it's too dangerous. this is the wood primarily inside with the lamp and all that, one fire bomb could ignite it. truman was presented with a report that had been done a week or two after pearl harbor when they begged roosevelt to leave. he said i love old houses, i will not. it was the safety of the president. and when it was finished and truman finished his remodelling in 1952, it was the safest house in the world. it was concrete blocks. it was steal. every room was a cage and steel and the old walls were preserved but the inside was all new. bombs could go off and nothing, they thought, would happen. but, of course, bomb technology has made that passe. >> which first lady was the most intelligent? >> there were a lot of those. boy, you get me on these thing mgs. you really do. you mean in the learning sense? i'm going to have to return to ms. theodore roosevelt. happier in a book than anywhere in the world. she was a bookish intellectual woman and there had been people like that before, mrs. fillmore was such a person.
she was a bookish woman and, again, mrs. harrison that no one has ever heard of anymore. but mrs. harrison was a very smart individual and also politically astute. >> now, one of the reasons we asked you these questions because you were involved with c-span with the first lady series going every monday night at 9:00. however, there's a summer hiatus and really restarted september 9. we've done 16 programs so far. doesn't matter what era. could be before or after -- the new programs will start up and i think there's another 19 programs to it. what are the milestone years for first ladies through history? >> well, i would say certainly this is mrs. adams. the first woman to live in the white house. bright lady, capable lady.
more social sign. the medicine and the mellow drama of the burning of the house. you have other first ladies but you go to a period where there really aren't many first ladies. i would take it up from there to harriet lane, president buchanan's niece. the white house -- everyone would remember some of the old people here in the 20th century saying that was the grandest white house that had ever happened. the young girl, the uncle was the dad, the uncle was the administer to great britain and she was the hostess at 15 and she came back to the white house and knew what she wanted it to be. single, 25, 26 years old. it was quite splendid on the eve of the civil war with all of the drama that went with that. >> never married.
>> no. the niece and nephew. harriet and buck. >> why did they raise them? >> their parents died. they took them in. >> he is often cited as one of the worst in american history. you see them rate them all, how did that track at the time? >> lincoln didn't think so. lincoln very much appreciated his holding the union together until the next administration could take over. he was a brilliant diplomat. sometimes that's not appreciated with the president, i think, the administrator or everybody sees that. diplomacy is another matter. and he was a fine diplomat. a very talented diplomat. an older man when he took office and kind of a celebrity. people thought he would bring peace or more even life than pierce in the 1850s had been a terrible decade.
did what he could but not much. >> which first lady in history would you like to have dinner with? >> here i go again. probably mrs. roosevelt. edith roosevelt. teddy rose veelts wife? >> sure. >> why? >> i think she was tremendously good company and dolly madison was good company. mamie eisenhower was good company. no one forgot a dinner with her. >> why is that? >> she was giddy-yap and fun and made people laugh and had everybody feeling good. mrs. lyndon johnson whom i have had dinner with is a charming person. you knew her well. and she's a charming person to be with too. but a woman who's made it through that much to get there has to have some charm. almost any of them i would take. i might be a little scared of
mrs. lincoln. but all the rest would make good company. >> video clips of white houses and first ladies and all of that. the presidents and the first one is lusane, the professor of the american university. and he did a book on the history of blacks in the white house. >> yes. >> this is a q&a for a couple of years ago about the martha washington's slave -- pick it up at the end. >> she found out early 1796 that martha washington was planning to give her away as a wedding gift. during slavery, slaves were given away. this was upsetting for her. because when they died, they would free individuals who were slave to them.
and she had hoped down the road she would be out of the institution. but if she's going to be given away, that meant her whole life was going to be in slavery. she's going make plans to escape. she writes, she talks about later, one evening, late spring, 1796 while the washingtons were silting at the dinner table waiting for her to serve them, she went out the back door. rather than say, you know, she escaped, we don't like it, but we'll leave it alone. george decides to kidnap her. they send a nephew back to kidnap her which was actually fairly common. >> how many stories in history like this, slaves in the white house? >> many stories. there were african-americans in the white house, except the james buchanan administration
except when northerners and southerners would act rude. they brought in irish and english servants. that's the only time that happened. but the chef, hercules, left washington compound there in philadelphia and was not never found again. they think he was in new york. they don't know. not a lot of effort was made to find it. a little trouble in the washington house about his slaves and hers. he freed his. she didn't free hers. so she may have agitated him to go after this lady. i don't know, i don't know this story. it's the story of the white house. >> how often did someone give a slave away that you're reading about for a wedding gift? >> all the time, yeah, all the time. my great grandmother received a
slave who was her age as a wedding present named ann tobe. and they were together the rest of their lives, even after the civil war. always. they were hand-in-glove. and they died within a short time of each other. that's not an unusual story. that's in east texas. >> great grandmother. we skip a generation. i was a late child. >> how much of that was in your family. >> slave s? >> lots of them. >> have you ever studied it? >> as much as i can. as much as i can find out, i have. i've been interested in it. i've been interested in african-american history from the point of view of coming through that period. it's exciting what you can find. you would think it's a blank wall. there isn't at all. all manner is to dig deeper, dig deeper. i enjoyed that with the white house.
of course, the white house is built by african-american slaves and often an arrangement would be made that the master could be paid back in the wages and the man could be freed and get the education from the skilled european workers. they didn't like it, but they thought they were giving their instruction away and creating competition. it was there and all through the staff has been african-american or mixed with african-americans. the first bonded stewart of the white house was of course african-american, william slade. he was bonded because of the things of value in the house. they were his responsibility. and he was there under lincoln. he was there under johnson. and he died under johnson. >> sara martin of the massachusetts historical society has a comment here about abigail adams and we'll see what we want to add to this.
>> remember the ladies letter is a letter everyone knows and associates with abigail adams. what is lesser known and what is fascinating about the letter is that the remember the ladies comment comes quite far down in the letter and the first section of her letter to joan is -- it's questioning and voicing her concerns about virginia's role in the revolutionary war. [video clip] >> your favorite story about abigail adams. when you hear that, what's your reaction? >> she complained constantly when she got down south to washington as nothing is as efficient as it was supposed to be. and her comments -- and the two new englanders could do the work of 12 of these southerners. that sort of thing amused me with her.
it's interesting about the virginia versus new england, that's still a question of historians. professor green in johns hopkins, most involved the liberties came in the assemblies of virginia. but it's an argument about where it came from. the principles that the countries are based on. >> what do you think of that statement, did it have any impact pack in the early 1800s. >> i don't think so. that -- it's a personal letter. but it shows, i think, that the issue was there. and it always had been there about women and women's rights. in maryland, the lady i forget her name stood up to her rights to do business in the man. she ended up the business
manager for the governor of maryland. and mistress brant, she was like, 1600, 1700, and it comes up again and again. the rights women had, which they did not have in the east. but as you move west in the state constitutions is more and more and more rights, property rights. that's the basis in the law. if you have any right in the law, the other stuff rises from that which it did all through the century. and it affects the white house. president taft was the first who -- well, i'd say harrison is the first who introduced the idea of a more participating presence of women. and then taft was very much in sympathy of the day before wood row wilson's inauguration. it was a great parade. thousands of women marched down the street. and wilson had betrayed them, you know, he used them and didn't support them and the suffragettes, the women's
rights -- national woman's party led by a glamour girl named ines bohand, a white horse and a toga floating on the end. the taft women went. the wilson women did not. the taft women went. the parade erupted into a horrible thing of men running in, beat beating up the women, punching them. it was an ugly scene. but it was supported by the tafts. president taft is always in favor of women's rights. >> what did the adamses do. john quincy adams about their wives and african-americans and the white house. did they use slaves in the white house? >> no. unless there's something they don't know about that were hired. >> were they the only ones in the early years that didn't use slaves? >> monroe did. he used slaves. he sold them from the white
house, as a matter of fact. some of the staffs in and around washington are trained to do all of the things that needed to be done in the place like silver, the china, food, decor, all of that. they were hired all through the history of the white house to do that. >> clarence, one more -- this is on dolly madison, this has to do with slaves. [video clip] >> she fell on hard times. it's very different from the day when someone leaves the presidency, they're pretty much guaranteed, you know, somewhat security for the rest of their life. but that really wasn't the case during the period. and so her friends and her family basically abandoned her. and so although she had -- she did him wrong, he felt some compassion, some human compassion. she writes in his memoirs, he would visit her, he would bring her food. probably give her money when he had it.
he looked by that period, the late mid or so. dolly madison is up there in age. she had no one to look after her. so he writes that he did what he could, what he had. and he actually became somewhat successful once he bought his freedom. >> cole jennings is what he's talking about. paul jennings was a gentleman. he was raised in the house with the family. he was the body servant, as he used to call it. slept in the room with james madison. >> slave? >> yeah. he was of the family. mrs. madison would haven't sold anything or anybody. but she had this rotten son by her first marriage. and i don't know what ever happened to him. he was a promising boy and used to be invited by jefferson to dine at the white house and all.
he went wrong somewhere and became a drunk and a really a bat character. he would sell anything she had. the diaries of madison, the famous diaries that were illegally kept, henry clay and daniel webster got the congress to pay her $25,000 for it. that was a year's salary for a president. the son run through it in a minute. she let him do anything. he's the one that sold paul jennings to the slave trader, that's the worst part of it all. but it goes on. the slave traders he brought into her house in suki, her maid that she had been with forever was with her in the white house and the flight was sold and other house servants and a man -- a friend was there and he said it was horrible. they looked like frightened doves. mrs. madison, her son just had
power over them. that's how that ended, a terrible story. >> who in history that had slaves gets a gold star for freeing them. really, really freeing them. not before they died, when they died. seems like all of the stories here is they can go free. >> general grant dipped. >> general grant did the same thing? >> he had the slave and he freed him. >> before. >> before. yeah. >> anybody else. the other question is where did we get the idea that all men are created equal in a society like this. how are they dealing with it from what you can tell? >> there are other people who can do that far better than me. it's the racial distinction. black people were highly identifiable. and i think that people were willing to accept the fact that -- or accept as a fact that they were inferior. this happened in latin america, of course.
isabella -- queen isabella decreed that all of the indians were human beings and that they were not to be treated badly even if they were. it's a bet of a curse that runs through history. and is being rectified. but it's taken a long time. >> louise saah katherine adams, john quincy adams' wife. >> what a pain in the neck. she was beautifully educated, raised in england, married to a merchant. her father was a merchant named johnson. and she and john quincy married. he was a stiff upper lip guy who had been pushed into the diplomatic service by his parents as a teenager. and he was a very unbending character, but, of course, a greatly moral character. a good politician. and she -- she spent half of her life saying he didn't love her and complaining about things and
yet apparently a gracious, lovely hostess. she was musical and all. but she wrote a long strange essay in the white house telling how her husband had never loved her. >> who saw that? >> i don't know. it was in her -- it's in her papers. but she's a -- she's -- a strange neurotic sort of a woman. >> what do you think he would have been like personally? >> he would have been a bear. she would have had to have loved him a lot. because she was very strict and particular about everything. and he had his interests. you read his diary, he partitioned his day and that's how it worked. he gardened, did state department sometimes. he went swimming in the creek sometime at a certain time -- 6:00 in the morning. that's the way he lived. there were no soft edges to him. and she had lots of soft edges. >> here is caroline at the adams national historical park, a
ranger there, talking about louisa katherine adams. [video clip] >> she was brought to this house to meet her father and mother-in-law. of that moment she would write -- had i stepped on to noah's ark, i could not have been more utterly astonished. she had a challenge in winning over abigail adams. john adams was easy. he took to her right away. she felt comfortable with him and well liked by him. abigail was more skeptical, perhaps due to john quincy's teasering. he only gave abigail a little information about louisa katherine and wasn't forthright in his intentions. it's a surprise that he married louisa katherine so quickly and abigail did not get a chance to know her. she was quite concerned that she had never stepped foot on american soil. >> they like that the theodore
roosevelts were married in london. not in this country. but i think abigail adams is old then, older. and she was sort of a bossy lady. she was one of the people wanted to do her way and her family. she had bad repercussions from it. one boy, charles, died an alcoholic and left a little girl for her to raise. she was a controlling individual. and i would imagine she would want to have all of the facts before she saw the lady. >> tell me the something about rachel jackson before marsha mullen. >> she never went to the white house as first lady. she died in december before -- after jackson's election. but before the inauguration and she said she never went to washington. though she had been to washington many times. rachel jackson lived under the shadow of political use of the question of their marriage.
they probably weren't married legally. she was married to another man. they ran away to the natchez-mississippi area, the territory. and lived together and later claimed they were married. during the campaign, it became a real issue and jackson never got over it because he said it killed her ultimately. all her life, she was embarrassed by it. she was a pioneer woman, she smoked a pipe, a corn cob pipe. and was a very excellent plantation manager. but the public side of things, no. and she was very, very hurt by it. now, judge overton, the best friend of the family, wrote an essay about the scandal of the not being married because they did remarry. he advised them to marry when jackson became famous and that was back in tennessee. the judge said the whole detail. he gets up. goes to mississippi, to natchez.
as they say, they were married. he wouldn't go any further than that. >> what did andrew jackson do the rest of his term? two terms, really? as far as the first lady? >> for a hostess? he had his wife's niece for the second administration. she died in the second administration. she was popular. but she left over the flutter of the margaret o'neill scandal of a woman of the -- a very loose morals -- known for loose morals. he married a member of the cabinet, the indian expert. the women would not notably john c. calhoun's huffy wife and would not accept her. she had authority. her political position was -- the women wouldn't call on her or receive her.
it became an ugly thing. jackson apeers to have paralleled this with his wife's treatment. mrs. jackson was not treated like that in washington. peggy was not a very nice person. >> the chief curator at the herm taj outside of nashville. [video clip] >> this is a letter that jackson wrote on the day that rachel actually died, december 22, 1828. he's writing to his friend, richard keith call. in the letter, he describes the on set of rachael's illness, her final illness. and he says that she was a few days hence suddenly violently attacked with pains in her left shoulder and breast and such was the contraction of the breast that suffocation was apprehended -- i mean, it was clear she was in very serious condition. but he talks about getting ready to go to washington like he's assuming she'll get better and
off we'll go. but she did pass away later in the day. >> in history -- especially in the first half of the series, there's ane -- an enormous amount of health problems. did anyone escape? >> you had to be a tough as a boot to make it in those days. you could take a whole body bath and die two days later. they didn't do that except for in the summer. people were careful. you went to the apocathary, a drugstore, they would buy things to make a medicine. they had few patents. in the 19th cent rip, health is always a big concern. that's why the presidents in the early days all left in the summertime. they left in the end of june and went somewhere else. home, sometime, if they were farmers as most were. polk was the only one who stayed.
they blamed his death the day he left the white house, a white marsh that gave off a gas. the white house was sed up on a podium. there was a stone wall and made level behind it. then a drop of 12 or 15 feet. it was marshy. the fog jefferson describes looking out the window at it and how evil it was and poisonous. no one stayed because of that except pope and then he died. >>. >> one termer died at age 53. what was sara childress polk like? >> a very, very smart astute woman who got what she wanted any way you looked at it. she got what she wanted. she came to washington to serve her job as first lady, do the things she believed.
and not allowing dancing or -- or alcohol that is booze because dolly madison introduced whisky punch in washington. you just love that. but she allowed wine at the white house but no more punch. that stopped. and she asserted herself definitely in washington. she had been a help mate to him. he was a quiet man, a very quiet man, very smart. she sort of ran interference for him, i think. all of their young married life and on. >> over the years, any arranged marriages among the first ladies and presidents? >> not that i can recall to mind right now. as an arranged marriage the parents getting together and saying, or a deal being made. no. i don't know of anything. >> sort out the john tyler --
what -- how many kids? >> oh, gosh. i think eight. i'm not sure. there was -- he was having him clear up to the civil war. >> two families. >> two families. the first wife, leticia was ill with one of those lingering illnesses. she did come to the white house. she died in the white house. not long after, she married one of the daughter's good friends, a young woman in the 20s. they had quite an elegant two months as president and first lady. a funny letter that her -- julia, the wife's sister writes her. and she said, you spend so much time hugging and kissing when you should be making hay for your family. >> the great grandson, the grandson of tyler. do you know him? >> yes, i do. >> this is for the series. [video clip] >> her father was up there.
my grandfather fell in behind her going up to the steps to the deck. they looked back calling out, don't let ms. gardner find out her father is dead. when she heard that, my grandmother fainted right back to the arms of the president. he caught her tenderly and gently. she did go and docked and when it docked, he picked her up and carried down the gangplank. and as nay were going down the gangplank, she came to. later she wrote her mother sailing the first thing sheer remembered was going down the gangplank in the arms of the president and she struggled and her head had fell over to the quick of his arm and she could look up in his eyes. she wrote her mother saying, i realize for the first time that the president loved me dearly. >> what do you think? >> i love that, tenderly and gently, he caught her. but explain the circumstances of who he's talking about? >> the -- they took the cutter, prince ton out on the river, the navy did, for a show.
and dolly madison was there. all of the celebrities were there. and they fired this enormous cannon and it backfired and kills several people. they were bodies that rolled around on the eastern floor and one was julia gardner's father. a great tragedy, a terrible thing that happened. it's an ambitious, very attractive young lady and lived many, many years. >> how old was she when they married. >> i believe she's 24. i'm not sure. >> he was how old? >> 50 something. >> and what was the reaction to the country to that? >> i think people were pretty happy. it was interesting to people. his hostess was the daughter-in-law who was the first actress in the white house, mrs. reagan was next. but she was the first. and she had the -- she got the gate.
but julia took over and they acclaimed her appearance at the white house. some people tiddered a little because she dressed up in a royal manor and stood on a platform at the end of the blue room and nodded at the guests like queen victoria. that was made fun of. but i think it was a very popular time. they entertained practically everyone in the country in the brief two months. and the polks came in and it wasn't as cheery. >>how do you remember all of this. you don't have a note near you. >> i don't know. >> do you have great memory. >> it's funny about history, associating it with a place, sometimes they just become players and you think about them. in the white house is a place that they all passed through.
>> they're part of a big story. >> you read the two volume series. >> when is the last time you updated it? >> the president's house. at the end of the bush administration. >> people are interested in it, how can they get it. >> white house historical association. you can go to the web on that. whitehouse.edu. >> got some more on tyler. harrison tyler is the grandson of john tyler. >> and owns proper -- sherwood forest, their home, that the tylers had after the presidency. >> john tyler's grandson still be alive? >> old man, old, young children. >> here's tyler.
[video clip] >> she took henry clay out to dinner. this is a woman without a chaperon, a president's wife, alone, having dinner with henry clay. she didn't mind at all. she wrote her mother a letter which i think is priceless. she says, "mother, mr. clay was a little insulting. when i told him that my husband wanted him to vote for the annexation of texas, he said to me, i am right. texas should not be annexed to the union. and mrs. tyler, i want you to know that i'd rather be right than be president. and i replied, my dear sir, my husband is both." i true think think that the reply is almost better than the statement from clay which we hear so frequently. >> julia having lunch with henry clay. what would that be like? >> well, amazing.
very formal. for one thing. probably in the family dining room. just the two of them. it would have been informal. very courteous, a very amusing man to be with. she seems to have been for someone who hasn't climbed the political ladder and just came in from new york's society which she was a member of the old new york family, i'm sure as charming as it could be in the reportoire, chairs around the walls, butlers coming in and out. >> over the years, you've told a lot of stories to a lot of the audiences, what's the story everybody likes the most? is there such a thing? too burning of the white house, >>the flight of mrs. madison is the single -- the one that
really turns people on. i like mckinley. my favorite story is about mckinley of all people. the forgotten president who changed the presidency. the spanish-american awar was going happen. he needed money for it. he called the speaker of the house around midnight. they talked and talked and the speaker said write down what you need. and he wrote on an old piece of telegraph people, $50 million for defense. two, three days later, the speaker hat it for him which, of course, put the war in the president's hands. and it elevated the president to a level of power he hasn't known since george washington. so the chief executive was fading. and then the new presidency was coming. and, of course, poor mckinley was killed and theodore roosevelt was left to traumatize the new presidency. >> here is debbie schmidt, the
andover historical society talking about jane pierce. [video clip] >> jane and franklin were staying in andover because there had been a death in the family. jane's u.n.ing m, amos lawrence had died. they went to boston to have that funeral. they returned to andover where they could pack and get ready to move to the white house. unfortunately, the train ride was very devastating for the family. they were a mile outside of andover and an axle rod broke on the train and slipped down an embankment. as i understand it, benny was a child. he was moving about. this is within five minutes of the train ride beginning and when the train rolled down, he was hit in the back of his head very severely. he did not survive the crash. the services for benny took place at mary akin's house. they went to concord to bury benny. but jane did not attend. she was very grief stricken and could not make it to the final procession of the funeral.
jane was very sick most of her life. she's been referred to as terbucular and probably died of a lung disease and died at andover street. >> it's a very sad story. they thought he was just down the hill in the snow. the father went down to get him and his cap fell off and the whole top of his head was crushed. that was the second child, the little boy they lops. she never got over that. she became very morose. she wrote letters to him all the time in the white house. and then the jefferson davises had a little boy. he was 2 years old. she would visit around because it's part of the job to call. and she developed an attraction to this child. she would go see him. he brought her out of it to the extent. and he died.
>> the davis child close? >> she just closed up. >> i want to ask you more about that. jeff davis goes on to be president of the confederacy. what's the timing on a all of this. why were they so close to the davises, was that, what, mississippi? >> davis was a -- we see him through the fog of the confederacy. he was an engineer. he made his battle of the battle of monterey and the battle plan for general taylor. still studied in history. the first wife was general taylor's daughter. and they eloped. more or less. they married in minnesota. and then they -- she died on the honeymoon. >> on the honeymoon? >> she's buried near baton
rouge, louisiana of diphtheria or -- i don't know, something. she'lls buried there. and then he was all alone on his plantation for a long, long time. he had a wealthy brother who kind of kept him in wealth. then he married varina howell from natchez, mississippi. it's still there. rouge, louisiana of diphtheria howell was, i hate to say pushy, but she was. she was a very aggressive lady. and wherever she went, everybody knew her. and she was the belle of washington. i mean everybody was -- she was in everybody's house and of course the president's too because of the taylors, you know, at first. the taylors. and so anyway then pearce. and so she was close to everyone. leaving washington, if i put it in modern terminology with the papers we have today in reporting, it would have been a sensational thing for this couple leaving on the train to go to south when the civil war
began. davis had been very much involved in the remodelling of the capitol, which went on at that time. and not really a fire brand. he wasn't as obsessive as some of the southerners, but he was a dyed in the wool southerner. >> you mentioned harriet lane. here's jennifer walton of cleveland up in lebanon, pennsylvania. near lebanon, pennsylvania. but let's watch this. then you can continue with this. [video clip] >> harriet lane's life was marked by a tremendous loss. the tragedies beginning earlier in life with the loss of both of her parents, several young siblings. she reached adulthood, the loss of three siblings that also
reached adulthood with her followed by the death of her beloved uncle and shortly there after, the deaths of the two young sons and her husband, ultimately. you can see here, i have harriet lane's jewelry box. it would have held trinkets and jewels and lots used in happy occasions and parties and galas. some of them used for more intimate and sad locations when she was grieving. i have pieces of morning jewelry here that are very interesting. and this first one is a morning locket that contains the head of her mother, father, three of her siblings. and it's very unique in that the locket closes into the ball. as the wheel turns, there are glass plates and it's the hair of one of her family members and it's engraved in their name and death. >> we hear so much about death. kids dying and so much. how did they deal with it? >> it was closer to them than us.
most of us. it happened -- several first ladies die in the white house. a number of children died in the white house. >> how many first ladies? do you remember? >> mrs. harrison. mrs. wilson, wood row wilson. >> first wife. >> mrs. tooiler to go back. -- mrs. tyler, to go back. i believe it's all. they died. it was a major thing. and seems to me one more. >> have you been to all of these places like wheatland? >> yes, i have. >> and when did you start doing that? >> well, even before i was working on the white house. i was interested in that. and these individuals and how they lived. wheatland's is an exceptional site to go to. it's a -- it's everything's there. harriet lane was a very wealthy woman. when she died late 1917, i
think, it was round lip said she was the most highly respected woman in the united states. her charity, shep founded the -- the -- harriet lane children's hospital in baltimore. they changed the lane about 25 years ago, be uh still the children's hospital. they found the st. almond's school in memory of her two little boys. >> mm-hmm. she did many, many good workings. she didn't just go into a shell like jane pearce. she -- she was very active and into things and the -- and doing good works. she was a strong woman. maybe not a scholar or a learned-type woman, ever. but she was a human -- she was a people type lady. >> how many first ladies in this first part of the series were college educated? >> the first -- well, mrs. pope, i guess, went through the academy.
mrs. -- mrs. harrison? mrs. harrison was a -- >> carrie harrison. benjamin harrison's wife. >> okay, next the president -- not controversy at all. mary lincoln. edith mail helping with the series talk about robert lincoln and his mother. [video clip] >> she was sewing money and bonds in the hems of her skirt and carrying -- literally carrying them around with her because she was show terrified that she was impoverished. so that kind of was the final straw for him. but interestingly enough, she was not allowed to testify in her own behalf. and all of the people who made the decisions were men. so they got all of these male pillars of the community to come and testify. about, you know, she's -- she's kind of gone off.
and she needs to be institutionalized. >> what's your verdict on -- was she mentally insane? or -- >> i think she was mentally -- manic or something like that. they know more about that than me. there was definitely something wrong. she was not a successful first lady. when you judge first ladies, you think of carrie harrison and you think of mrs. grant. you think of these people. she just wasn't. she was a constantly in controversy. she wrote irresponsibility letters to people. she was kind of coarse. she was beautifully educated and knew better, but she would refer in letters to jefferson davis as jeff and jeff davis and all that. it doesn't sound quite right for a first lady to do. of course, she lost three sons. one in the white house, one before the white house, and one after the white house. and robert todd was left who was like at family and who was a cold as a fish. ice cold.
and he offered her no comfort or anything. tad had been the one she was so close to. she has the typical thing that happens to widows, maybe the first two years. it stopped and being terrified of not having enough money. the man has managed everything. they've never done that. and people -- they think people are taking advantage of them. it's perfectly understandable. but they would drag on because they couldn't leave anything. she got mixed one the white house staff in funny ways. and ended up -- and there was a green house attached to the white house. she was in there for the son in the winter and a lot of -- john gardner got close to her and she was a cook. he got close to her and she would tell him too much and he got access to the office and then took one of lincoln's speeches and gave it to another
unscrupulous person that she associated with. >> quick question on this. a couple more when we finished. robert todd lincoln and abraham lincoln ii are buried here. the rest of the entire family is in springfield. >> in springfield. >> why did he stay away from the family? >> i don't know. i don't know at all. that tomb was robbed, as you know. and maybe he didn't want any part of it. i don't know. he's not there. he was associated with washington. he lived here in georgetown. >> here's annette dunlap, historical author talking about frances cleveland. [video clip] >> you have some language called them beauty in the beach because they didn't like him and he was, you know, 47, he was 49. he was portly. he wasn't necessarily the handsomest man in the world. and she was an absolute stunner. dark hair, blue eyes, tall for
that age. very, very good looking. and there were people who thought that there was something that was strange about it. but for the most part, because they fell immediately in love with her, they kind of accepted her as part of the package. >> okay, how did this happen? >> they were 20 years apart or more. but he'd known her since she was born. she was the child of his business partner. it was his ward. they were very much in love with each other, very much. and he was protective of her in a fatherly sort of way. he couldn't stand the press and ever mentioning her, she was all over the press. she was the first lady who really was there all the time. she was there all the time, always favorable. she was clever politically and she was witty. there was a term in between. he served one term, stayed out, served another. the term they moved to new york,
she was the belle of the city. all of the artists, everybody crowded around her. she's witty, fun to be with, and pretty. she had a political way. when our first state visitor, the princess ula lee of spain who came to open the world's fair, she wore pearls that went from her neck to the floor the size of robins eggs and the diamonds and the tiara. and mrs. cleveland wore a white camelia and a wedding band and was the winner. >> came one the idea in the first place, talking about ida mckinley. [video clip] >> he was governor of ohio. 3:00 every day he would go to the office window and wave the hand kerchief so ida could see across the street.
later on, ida insisted the hardest thing would be to withdraw from public life. that's not what she wanted. and it led to rather uncomfortable scenes. we have testimony from william howard taft and others who found themselves sitting next to the first lady, traditionally, the president and the first lady would be seated in opposite tables or next to each other. the mckinley's sat next to each other. if mrs. mckinley had a seizure, she kpould unobtrusively take a napkin and drape it over her face until the seizure ended and she might resume in the middle of a sentence where she left off. >> president mckinley was killed, assassinated. what happened after that. >> she live about a year.
to everyone's surprise, she seemed so weak, he was so protective of her, she was as strong as could be during the whole thing. accompanied the body in the state funeral in washingtonf and back home to canton, ohio and was as strong as she could be. in public? >> oh, yep, at state dinners. >> at state dinners. >> frequently. >> is there any history about what the reaction was among the people that were there. >> people were genteel about it. commented on it, the letters and things. they commented on it. never a scene in state dinner, john crawford and back in monroe's time they pulled the sword -- these two, the british minister and someone else pulled stores across the table. that and joan crawford, i don't
know of any other incidents. >> you been to a state dinner? >> no, huh-uh. i have -- sorry, i have. >> under clinton. >> you were there. >> and the -- the dinners that -- the first ladies, which was the first lady -- the first first lady that you met. >> mrs. nixon. two weeks before he resigned. >> what was that like? >> she was charming. she was interested in having a movie done about the white house and i was supposed to develop it and get all of the information and make it to be accurate. we need to start with the long story. anyhow, she was all for it. in a's what she liked. she was lively and interesting. since then. >> all of them. i don't know mrs. obama very well. but the other ones i newell enough, i guess. >> and the reason would be that they would want to talk about
the white house? >> either that or they asked me to make a talk to some event that they were having or that kind of thing. no intimacy. i have never been "of" an administration. i'm with the white house historical association or on my own and just sort of coming in as a person helping where i can. >> is the historical association associated with the white house officially? >> yes, no -- no, no. the white house historical association is independent. it does publications. it assumes the interpreting to the white house to the american people who is a long -- has a long history. jefferson first opened the white house in april of 1801. the white house had to be shown as the people's house. project that 200 years. there's a lot they want to know. and particularly the kennedy administration they introduced it in such a way. that's when the association was
founded. what the association does with the websites and the films and the books is interpret the white house to the american people. that is pure and simple nonprofit job. >> a couple of quick questions. what's the reaction of the white house stopping the tours in this period? >> if they have to protect the president, they have to stop the tours. but i'll tell you, no president wants to stop that. so i'm sorry that it had to happen, but they had to protect the president. >> the next question, though, is obama what they know in the quarters. how often have you been around? >> it happens a lot. and in the earlier period of the 20th century, oh, the 50s, you never would have gotten in the truman's traffic quarters. never got roosevelts the best. but obama had so little privacy to have the suite of 15, 20 rooms, they know they can go in
the room and not look at ten people. it's perfectly understandable. >> series of first ladies starting up again on september 9, what do you think people will react -- the first half be registered or the second half of first ladies? >> the first half is traditional, more historical, of course. >> what we're sealing. >> more modern, though, because you put the break at the right place where we started to become the world power. that's the theme of the 20th century. you get into what most people from 60s back remember, it will have a little -- it's going be hard for you all to edit, i think, because it's so much footage, so many pictures so, many issues. and it's hard to judge people immediately. i know there are many books who do. but it's hard to do.
>> which ones coming up are you involved in? >> theater roosevelt, franklin roosevelt, taft, all of them. truman. >> we're out of time. >> white house -- >> the white house -- not the white house historian, but the historian of white house activities all these years, thank you so much for talking with us. >> thank you. >> for a dvd copy, call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts and to give us the comments about the program, vitz it us at q&a.org. q&a programs are also available as c-span pod casts.
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money the pentagon spends and admirals and generals. host: good morning, it is monday, august 5. congress is not in session as members are home in their the next five weeks for the and -- for the annual recess. president obama is in washington today, scheduled with meetings with senior advisers. are on alert after terror warnings from the state department and terror officials. you'll get more on that this morning. we want to focus on the top federal budget questions that congress will have to address when it returns next month.